A Diagnosis and the Five Stages of Grief

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FullSizeRender-1While I was putting together my first Parent Workshop for my ADHD Coach For Life company, I came across an article about the five stages of grief. These are generally pretty familiar to most people, but in case you need a refresher, they are:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

These stages really hit home for me because many people who get a diagnosis of some kind, whether it be for themselves or a loved one, have gone through these stages. It doesn’t matter if the diagnosis is for ADHD or for some other issue, the process of “grief” is still the same.

How does this look in action? Here’s a mock example of the stages of grief that a parent whose child is diagnosed with ADHD might go through…

Denial: Nope. My child does not have ADHD. There is no way he has ADHD. He is just spoiled/excitable/struggling in school/rude, etc. He needs more discipline and then he will act “right”.

Anger: How dare someone think that my child has ADHD! My child is NOT “disabled” or “different”. We are all “normal” in my family. Ok, if we are actually dealing with ADHD, then it must have come from my spouse! How could I have married someone who has these genes in their family?! It’s all his/her fault and I am going to let him/her know it.

Bargaining: Dear God (or whomever you pray to), if you take this ADHD away, I will be forever indebted to you. I will serve you the rest of my life. I understand you want me to change the way I live and this is why you gave this to us, but we don’t want it. Take it away and I’ll do anything you ask.

Depression: This. Is. Awful. We can’t go anywhere anymore because I am afraid of how my child might act. Everything about our life is ruined. When I dreamt of having children, this is not how I saw my future. I am so sad for my child, my family, myself.

Acceptance: Ok. I see this is what we are dealing with and I am ready to tackle the challenges. I have armed myself with all the necessary knowledge that I need to make my child successful. I have purchased Spaz: The True Story of My Life With ADHD and have learned valuable information and gained hope that my child can and will be a success because of, not in spite of, his ADHD. His unique gifts are what make him great. I am going to be my child’s biggest advocate and his biggest cheerleader. With my in his corner, he can conquer the world … or, at least the second grade.

Obviously this is a simplified version of these stages. People go through them at different speeds, but I do believe that parents of children with a diagnosis have hit each one of these at some time or another. The question is, where are you and what do you plan to do to help you move to the next step?


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